Gospel of Mark

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The Canonical Gospels
Gospel of Matthew | Gospel of Mark | Gospel of Luke | Gospel of John

The Gospel of Mark is the second Gospel of the New Testament; chronologically the first Gospel written. Like the other four gospels; Mark (known as John Mark) was one of the 12 disciples who used Peter as the primary source of his gospel as well as his own personal experiences.

Authorship and writing of the Gospel

Mark the Apostle, also known as John Mark, is widely attested by the ancient Church as the author of this gospel. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas and later aided Peter (1Pt 5:13). According to tradition, Mark subsequently used Peter's teaching as his primary source for this gospel, adding to it his personal experience and other church traditions.

As with the other gospels, the exact date of writing is uncertain. Because of its connection with Rome and its lack of any clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem (13:2), the Gospel of Mark may be dated shortly before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Many believe this was the first of the four gospels written.


According to some Church Fathers, Mark is writing for the Christian community of Rome, which either was experiencing the great persecution by Nero (beginning in AD 64) or was caught up in the apocalyptic fervor occasioned by the Jewish war. Mark tells the story of Jesus so readers may see their own suffering as a prelude to the glorious Second Coming of Jesus and may discern the reward of those who endure to the end.

Major Theme

The major theme of this gospel is Jesus Christ as Servant and Sacrifice. Other sub-themes include:

  1. The suffering Messiah (8:27-33) Being rejected by the elders and chief priests and the passion [crucifixion] of Jesus Christ. This suffering was analogous for his immediate disciples who say as their Messiah tribulations.
  2. The messianic secrete (1:34, 44; 8:30) One of the main reasons he wanted to be secret was to avoid public attention of the Romans and Jewish religious authorities such as the Sanhedrin (via Saducee and Pharisee agents) who saw him as a threat. Later in the New Testament, Paul in his writings, used this description of Jesus because we are lost without him if we are in the world (non-Christian.)
  3. Discipleship (8:34-38) Only the gospel saves and will be with you forever. Invitation to be in the presence of God and the holy angels.


See also, the main entry for Jesus Christ which discusses these themes in more details.
  1. Preparation for the Ministry (1:1–13)
  2. The Galilean Ministry: The Kingdom Is at Hand (1:14–6:29)
  3. Jesus manifests the power of the kingdom (1:14–45)
  4. Israel is divided over Jesus’ authority (2:1–5:43)
  5. Nazareth divided: doubters and disciples (6:1–13)
  6. The Forerunner beheaded (6:14–29)
  7. Ministry Beyond Galilee: The Kingdom and the World (6:30–9:50)
  8. Jesus relates to the Jews (6:30–7:23)
  9. Jesus relates to the Gentiles (7:24–8:26)
  10. The glory of the kingdom revealed (8:27–9:13)
  11. The response of this world (9:14–50)
  12. Journey to Jerusalem: The Kingdom's Discipline (10:1–52)
  13. Ministry in Jerusalem: Rejection, Persecution (11:1–16:20)
  14. The Messiah made manifest (11:1–13:37)
  15. Betrayal and Passover meal (14:1–31)
  16. The Passion (14:32–15:47)
  17. The Resurrection (16:1–20.)[1]


See also, Mark 16[2]

Early minority manuscripts end the gospel at Mark 16:8, however Majority Manuscripts (Byzantine) has 12 more verses and so therefore ends at verse 20. Early tradition suggests the longer ending to be valid and therefore historical because early Church Fathers such as Ireneaus quote from these verses. There is one manuscript called the Freer Logion manuscript (dated fourth-fifth century) which says “And they reported all the instructions briefly to Peter’s companions. Afterwards Jesus himself, through them, sent forth from east to west the scared and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation amen.” [3] Although this is not considered canonical, it maybe an early Christian tradition of how the author first assembled his companions into preaching. This hints of the authorship of Mark via Peter due to him giving out the commandments of his disciples.


  1. Orthodox Study Bible P 1328
  2. The Case of the Last Twelve Verses of S. Mark’s Gospel, Stated.
  3. New American Bible P 1140


The main Orthodox source for this article was The Orthodox Study Bible, 2008.

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